A Brave New…Garden.

In June 2013 I moved into a new home. A 1930s house in urban Derby. One of the main reasons for buying the house was its garden. At almost 200ft long, and about 25ft wide, it’s a typical urban 1930s long plot (the kind they don’t build just one house on any more). My previous garden had been a square of grass approximately 30ft by 30ft and, although it looked good by the time I’d finished with it, it was small. I needed more space to grow more plants and try new things.

This was my previous garden, in 2012.

Previous Garden
Mature shrubs and herbaceous perennial borders.

I felt I had done all I could with this garden. In particular, I wanted to grow more fruit and veg, and there just wasn’t the space to do so. I feel it’s important to become more self-sufficient and to grow our own food where possible. Being vegan, those fruit and veggies are important to me! And I’d rather not pay a fortune for something I can grow in my own small space. I’d also rather not consume anything laden with pesticides. Time to move!

When I moved into the new house, this is what the garden looked like…

A freshly mowed meadow.
A freshly mowed meadow.

…after we’d spent three days mowing what had been an incredibly overgrown 200ft of mixed grasses. The grass was around 2 metres high on the day we moved in! It was slightly shocking, given that the two times I’d looked at the garden before buying, the grass had been nicely mowed.

The job of clearing it began with a petrol strimmer and ended with a number of progressively shorter mows with a heavy-duty petrol mower. At last, the canvas was clear. I discovered a fairly mature but straggly Forsythia, a very mature and tall Lauris nobilis (culinary Bay), an overgrown Syringa vulgaris (Lilac), and various leafy remnants as evidence of a few bulbs (Muscari and Galanthus) planted in the ground, here and there. What stood out the most was a very old and slightly gnarled Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’, so mature that it is now a tree. With some light pruning and removal of a couple of branches to improve its shape, it is a very welcome small tree in this new garden.

Sometimes, just one interesting, unusual or pretty plant in a garden can be enough to inspire us to build upon it and create something wonderful. A delightfully scented flower, or a showy flowering plant, an unusual tree or shrub – it can be enough to stimulate the creative urge to plant and experiment.

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